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Holiday Crafts

Holidays happen to be a great time for crafting. I will confess to being a tad bit behind on my Christmas knitting, although there are many other crafty activities this time of year – baking, making ornaments, etc. Obviously I can’t show you what I’m making for people, since nothing has been presented yet, but I can show you what I’m making these gifts with:

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I also created a Pinboard for future holiday crafts and activities. The apple cider sangria recipe turned out quite well, and there’s a few things I’m hoping to try next year.

Wine Bottle Cork Crafts, including an adorable little reindeer:

cork_reindeer

Christmas Tree Skirt, ideally something felt-y and polka dot-y, like this one from Crate and Barrel:

cheers_tree_skirt

Christmas tree ornaments like these clear glass ones, which would allow me to have tinsel that’s marginally less likely to get eaten by kitty:

tinsel christmas ornaments

And finally, more knitting & cork related crafting!

corkforest1

Christmas Knitting

This Christmas marks the 11th year (if I’m doing my math right) since I learned to knit. The knowledge, and a lovely pair of size 11 needles and gorgeous ball of wool, were a gift-that-keeps-on-giving from my college friend Lauren, of the awesome blog VeganYumYum. What was an idle college hobby has turned into a more serious pastime in the intervening years, and I love being able to plan and give personal and homemade presents. I’m thankful I can say my skills have improved somewhat over the years; that first Christmas I gave my dad a scarf so poorly and tightly knit that I’m sure it felt like a woolen snake was trying to strangle him. How about the year I splurged on expensive yarn for a scarf for my mom, only to find out I couldn’t afford enough of the yarn for a full scarf, and it ended up being little more than a neckwarmer?

Or the year I knit a tea cozy for a friend whose teakettle I apparently thought was giraffe-shaped?

 

Too tall tea cozy, in pink.
Tea cozy for giraffe tea!

And let’s never forget, the year I knit a legwarmer to such poor gauge, my sister ended up tying it off and using it as a hat? (Thanks, buddy, for playing along!)

"Legwarmer" big enough to wear as a hat ...
“Legwarmer” big enough to wear as a hat …

I’ve luckily done better in the last few years, especially with a few projects from a KnitPicks pattern set featuring a variety of teeny-tiny ornaments and garlands, knit on what felt like toothpicks. I think the effort was worth the result:

Knit garland of mini popcorn and cranberries
Popcorn & Cranberry Garland
Knit garland of miniature Christmas lights.
String of Lights

Sheep & Wool

I’ve been experiencing knitting malaise again while I am working on baby blankets (one of my favorite things) for T’s cousin’s wife, who is expecting twins! So exciting, but so much knitting, and doesn’t leave room for much else. I was really looking forward to a special post-twins-knitting treat from the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this year, and for the first time (it was my 3rd visit), I’m sorry to say I was disappointed. I struck out completely at two of my usual favorites, Maple Creek and Ellen’s Half Pint Farms, and couldn’t even find anything that struck my fancy at Tess’ Designer Yarns!

I guess that’s not totally accurate – I found display knits that struck my fancy, but the shops were out of the kit or the right size/color of yarn. I was so disappointed that I ended up not buying anything, except for one hank of Yowza from Miss Babs, in a lovely “Violets in the Grass” color. I’m thinking a shrug of some kind …

Miss Babs Yowza in "Violets in the Grass"
Miss Babs Yowza in “Violets in the Grass”

Really, the only thing I fell in love with was this little guy, and I couldn’t bring him home. Think of what the cats would say!

Alpaca
Alpaca!

Oh, well. There’s always next year!

Blast

March has ground on, slowly sapping my energy and drive. I’m headed to a showing of The Hunger Games tonight with a friend, and I’m really looking forward to it, though I’m sure I’ll regret it when I have to get up for work tomorrow. Iheld off on my initial desire to go to a midnight showing, largely because I couldn’t talk anybody else into it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately, and am especially proud of my Food ‘n Bev board. I like Pinterest better than Delicious, as I’ve said, for food and image-related bookmarking, and in trawling through my Delicious account to post recipe links and pictures to Pinterest, I’ve discovered that I have bookmarked a number of recipes multiple times, yet never made them. And these aren’t even normal, common recipes, either – it seems every time I stumble across a recipe for Welsh rarebit or a gin-based cocktail, I can’t help but want to try it. Maybe April should be a month for trying recipes like this – I suppose I could have/should have done this in February during my recipe diet, but live and learn.

There are a few nice things about spring in Maryland, before humidity has taken a real hold. For one, I can go on walks around campus after work and avoid the steamy, sometimes smelly gym. For another, flowers!

Two daffodils in a glassI saved these from the front yard. We’ve got a strip of daffodils and other plans growing across the front of the yard, along the sidewalk, and an apparently grouchy neighbor or post office employee trounced on a few plants, from which I saved the flowers. They won’t last as long as my lovely paper flowers, but they’re nice while they last.

Paper daffodils in a vase

 

National Craft Month

You guys, I am kind of failing at National Craft Month! I didn’t even realize that was a thing, and that it was a currently-happening thing, until after the month had started, and now I’m encountering all kinds of roadblocks! I’ve spent more time on Pinterest, pinning crafts I’d like to try, than I have actually crafting. Part of this is because I got sick last week and lost a few days, and part of this is that I recently had to have my credit card replaced because of fraudulent activity and am holding off on buying some supplies until I’m confident that’s been cleared up.

There is one project I’ve been working on and enjoying, though I don’t have pictures yet. T got me flowers for our two year anniversary last Tuesday, but instead of getting me regular ol’ flowers, he got me a paper flower kit from one of my favorite crafty stores, Paper Source. The Daffodil Flower Kit is lovely, and now I will always have the flowers. I’ve also learned that floral tape is super-tacky, and if you touch things with grubby fingers, you leave a CSI-esque trail of prints behind you.

Projection, part 2

I’m pleased to report that my weekend of projects was success!  I even managed to work in some episodes of The Closer and some reading.

My first project was to move my substantial DVD collection from cases into sleeves. I’ve held onto the cases, and probably will for about a month, just in case I change my mind. Basically, the lower half of my bookshelf went from this:

Bookshelf full of DVDs
Lots o' DVDs!

to this:

Bookshelf with fewer DVDs
DVDs all stored away!

And since I had so much extra space on my bookshelf, I decided to just fill it up with books and stash the DVDs elsewhere. So the final result is:

Bookshelf with Books Only
Books galore!

Ta da!

I also lined the shelves of my dresser drawers, starting from:

Empty Ikea MALM Drawer
Gross gray dresser drawer.

adding a little contact paper and some quality craft time, to end up with:

Ikea MALM Dresser Drawers, lined with green print contact paper
Marginally less institutional-looking.

And somehow, on top of all this, I managed to whip up some brown sugar pecan muffins for breakfast this week. Which have already been sampled!

Brown Sugar Pecan Muffin
Delicious sugary insides!

Projection, Part 1

Last week, when T was in town for Anna Howard Shaw Day, we managed to cross a few to-do items off my list. As these things usually go, crossing a few things off the list means adding more things to a different list. With crummy weather – wintery mix – approaching Baltimore, I’m hoping to spend the rest of my weekend doing some indoorsy craft and baking projects.

For example, I now have a dresser (a la Ikea), and it needs to be filled with things! But only after I’ve lined the ugly institutionally gray drawer interiors with something more cheery.

Cat on Dresser
The little cat likes to have the high ground.

I also inherited a new bookshelf from moving neighbors, also courtesy Ikea. It has no back, so I need to take care of that, but mostly I need to put stuff on the shelves so that it’s no longer strewn about the floor. This includes moving a stack of my DVDs out of their cases into more boxes – you guessed it – courtesy Ikea!

Cat on Bookshelf
The little cat surveys her domain.

As you can see, I’d better get a move on. Otherwise, the tiny cat will plant the flag of Catlandia, and the furniture will cease to become my property.

Fall projects

In addition to curling up with a good book, I’ve found crafting to be a fun way to pass a dreary fall afternoon. A little splash of color here and here, the sense of something completed – I enjoy feeling like I’ve used my time well, and often with crafting I can watch a movie and do something with my hands at the same time.

My big fall project goal is some scrapbooking. Not normally my top hobby, but I’ve been feeling a sense of wanderlust and restlessness lately, which I blame on lack of recent travel opportunities. I have a scrapbook of some past trips I’ve taken, and I’m hoping to fill out the rest of the book with the rest of my travel “stash,” which serves multiple goals. By scrapbooking some of the ticket stubs and other ephemera, I’m less likely to lose or damage it, I can look at it again easily, and its’ stored more efficiently than being folded into envelopes and tucked away gods know where. I’m not a fancy scrapbooker, with cutouts and patterned scissors, preferring colored papers and stickers and a straightforward photo album approach.

I’ve also recently completed a few knitting projects with yarn I bought in September. I have historically had a yarn stash problem and tend to buy yarn at twice the rate I knit it up, so this is something of a growth moment for me. My LYS had a trunk show my birthday weekend and I indulged in a hank of golden-hued hand-spun (so expensive I suspect gold was a component of the yarn, but hey, birthday) that I’m trying to eke a second hat out of (I knit one gorgeous hat, but it’s just a tiny bit small, so I’m trying again on larger needles). I also got, and have since completed, a scarf kit with a tan alpaca yarn to be knit up with a teal/green/brown variegated knit ribbon. I promise pictures of both to come, since my description of the latter project doesn’t make sense even to me, and I knit it. With these projects out of the way, I’m planning on concentrating on my Christmas knitting, including tiny knit ornaments for my mom. Worked on size 2 needles and copious charts, I think it’ll be quite a challenge!

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